Organised yearly by the Kent Ballroom and Latin Dance Society (KBLDS) committee, this years Strictly Kent Dancing was not one to disappointed compared to previous years. The competition consists of Sports committee members pairing up with ballroom/Latin dancers from the society. Each get assigned to learn a dance routine in three weeks (or three days, in mine and my partners case) and ace it as much as they can.
Those who took part were as follows:
Chris Guthrie from Kent Snow and his partner President of KBLDS Hannah Greenland, who danced the upbeat jive.
Next was Reece Evans from Kent RaG and his partner Josie Neame, who danced a very sensationalist tango.
After came Vicky Saward-Read from KCAS with her partner Dhriti Dogra, who danced the fun-loving Cha-Cha.
Moving onto Kent Union’s very own Sports VP Emily Window, who danced with partner Charles to a saucy Rumba.
Then came Matthew Willis from T24, who did an elegant Viennese Waltz with his partner Kat Skeates.
The much-anticipated Cameron Phillips from Kent Football FC danced an exciting Samba next with his partner Chloe.
Followed by a graceful Waltz done by Fiona Desmond Collins from Women’s Lacrosse with her partner Kailan Deadman-Spall.
Finally was myself Meg Warwick, dancing a speedy quick step with my partner Michael Willcock.
Between the contestants, there was also performances from K-Pop, Kent Dance and MTS. The professional from KBLDS also did their own group dances, crowd pleasers being the tap dance and a flashy jive medley to ‘Take On Me’ by Ah-Ha.
All the dancers tried their hardest, throwing themselves into trainings for their dances. The demand for Elliot hall was high within the rehearsal period, the competition running high as dancers would eye up each other’s routines. When it came to the dress run, everyone had polished up their routines perfectly, even Emily’s courageous lift went incredibly smooth.
Although adored by the public, the judges were not so kind to Cameron Phillips after doing his Samba. The head judge commented “you looked like you were walking to Essentials to buy a pasty.” When asked what a Samba is, Cameron simply replied stating “I don’t really know”. At least he had the audience’s support. Sid Curtis, a spectator from the audience and a part of Kent Football FC stated that “I thought Cam Phillips was atrocious but he gave us [Football] all a good laugh.” Cam gives his own view on Strictly, stating it "was a big step out my comfort zone from my usual dancing in Venue, but I actually really enjoyed myself even if I was called rubbish! I’m kind of sad it’s all over now".
Arguably, the judges were critical at points. My partner and myself criticised for our space, stating you could fit a bus between our bodies. Fiona and her partner were criticised as 'the dance was all going so well, until you stood up". But, they are professionals.
As a partaking in the competition, I will try my best not to be biased. The competition was tough, but Reece and his partner Josie shone out and fully deserved the winning title for their Tango. With Reece’s serious expression of intensity and Josie leadership of the routine, chemistry between the two helped their routine to soar. Even behind the scenes they would continuously discuss ways to improve their routine, sometimes Reece getting slightly too into the mindset of winning that Josie would have to tone him down. But the final dance paid off as the pair took first place.
Josie told us that "as this was my first year in the competition I was really looking forward to it. Reece was keen to learn the dance, enthusiastic and a great partner. I enjoyed doing the choreography and was thrilled to find out that we had won!" Reece then added onto this, saying "Going from not knowing what a ballroom hold is, to dancing in front of 100+ people, and actually doing well, in the space of 3 weeks is surreal. I'm still in disbelief that I won an actual dance competition... my only previous dancing experience was in Venue whilst I'm half cut. I'd definitely recommend it!
Matt and his partner Kat came second with their Viennese, complimented by the judges for learning such a difficult routine in such a short space of time. The steps were complicated, but the execution was thorough, gracefulness displayed by both parties. The judges were quotes stating ‘it was hard to tell who was the professional and who was the amateur”. He stated "I didn’t know what to think when I signed up for it, I never have been big on dancing but the whole process felt really rewarding because I felt like I was getting better.I was overjoyed with achieving 2nd place especially given that all the other contestants gave incredibly impressive performancesOverall it was a very fun and enjoyable process where I was able to learn a skill that I’ve wanted to do for a long time but just haven’t had the opportunity to and I hope I’ll be able to take this new skill in my stride and continue dancing."
It was a thoroughly enjoyed experience by all, the audience engaging with the dancing. Emily stated "The event was such a huge success for everyone involved! Hannah and the team did such a terrific job of organising the whole evening, it was so great to be part of such a unique event. It was the first time a Full-Time Officer participated in the event, and it was honestly amazing to be a part of it! Everyone brought their A-Game and really felt like a great finish to what has been a very long term!"
Until next year Ballroom and Latin.